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10 Best Animal Crossing Island Ideas for 2023

Dwight Pavlovic
Since its release in March 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) stands as one of the most popular games in modern gaming. And in 2021, the Nintendo Switch title underwent a lot of major changes. In particular, the 2.0 update and the Happy Home Paradise DLC (both out in early November 2021) added loads of content to provide new and longtime users plenty of fresh Animal Crossing island ideas to consider.
The 2.0 update is a major change that brings in a massive range of new activities, items, locales, and even new villagers. The Happy Home Paradise DLC adds even more content and offers players the chance to join Lottie’s Paradise Planning team and design vacation homes on resort islands.
In this article, we’ll highlight some of the biggest content additions from the 2.0 update that coincides with ACNH island ideas. We’ll also provide a short synopsis of Happy Home Paradise, and what it means for players looking for more Animal Crossing inspiration.

1. Welcome some of the 16 new villagers

woman playing video games
While this may not be an ACNH island layout idea, don't forget to check out the 16 new villagers added via the 2.0 update. You may recognize some of the new characters from older games, like Zoe, a blue anteater who made her debut in the first Animal Crossing game. The 16 villagers are an even split of original and returning characters.
Here’s a full rundown of new characters, sorted by current popularity at Nookazon:
  • Shino: An original deer villager with the peppy personality type, and one of the most popular and heavily traded villagers in the game. Birthday: October 1.
  • Ione: An original blue squirrel villager with the normal personality. Birthday: September 11.
  • Quinn: An original black eagle villager with the big sister personality type. Birthday: January 20.
  • Sasha: An original blue rabbit villager with the lazy personality type. Birthday: May 19.
  • Faith: An original orange koala villager with the big sister personality type. Birthday: March 21.
  • Marlo: An original gray hamster villager with the cranky personality type. Birthday: June 26.
  • Cephalobot: An all-new robot octopus villager with the smug personality type. Birthday: April 1.
  • Petri: An original white mouse villager with the snooty personality type. Birthday: October 23.
  • Azalea: A blue rhino villager with the snooty personality type. Her roots are in a Japanese-only update to the original GameCube game, commonly referred to as Animal Forest e+. Birthday: December 18.
  • Tiansheng: An original monkey villager with the jock personality type. Birthday: August 18.
  • Zoe: A blue anteater whose first appearance is in the original Animal Crossing game. Her personality type is normal. Birthday: February 10.
  • Frett: A yellow dog villager with the cranky personality. He’s from the Japanese-only Animal Forest e+ update. Birthday: October 30.
  • Rio: A red ostrich villager with the peppy personality type who first appeared in the original Animal Crossing. Birthday: September 10.
  • Chadwick: A blue penguin villager with the lazy personality type. His first appearance was in Animal Forest e+. Birthday: December 24.
  • Ace: A blue bird villager with the jock personality type. He first appeared in the original Animal Crossing. Birthday: August 11.
  • Roswell: A brown alligator villager with the smug personality type, first encountered in Animal Forest e+. Birthday: May 2.

2. Gather exotic crafting resources on an island tour with Kapp’n

A recurring figure in several older titles in the series, Kapp’n is a green turtle and ferry captain who joined New Horizons in the 2.0 update. You can now pay him 1,000 nook miles for passage to a special set of new islands.
In addition to some entertaining sea shanties, these tours offer a distinct set of resources and opportunities on each island. The islands vary, with some populated by rare animals or loaded with hard-to-find resources. They’re great for gathering seasonal items, like snowflakes and cherry blossoms, or the popular vines and glowing moss that don’t grow on your home island.

3. Open Brewster’s cafe at the museum

Brewster is another longtime series staple, and he’s the pigeon proprietor of the Roost cafe. Brewster and the Roost made their first appearance together in Animal Crossing: Wild World, released in 2002. His addition to the game satisfies a growing demand for the fan-favorite character’s return.
To open the Roost, you must satisfy several conditions.
  1. You need to donate 60 items to the museum
  2. Install the 2.0 update
  3. When you speak to Blathers at the museum, he’ll initiate Brewster’s appearance in your game.
  4. Speak with Kapp’n to visit a new island, where you may encounter Brewster and ask him to join your home island.

4. Get creative with the new cooking feature

Similar in many ways to the standard crafting system, cooking is another long-requested addition to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You can cook numerous items including apple jelly, a veggie sandwich, and whole wheat flour. Ingredients also vary from simple to complex. For example, you only need two apples to make apple jelly, but the veggie sandwich requires two flours, a tomato, and a carrot.
But how do you start cooking? It’s easy. You can discover new recipes by purchasing the Be a Chef! DIY Recipes+ item from the Nook Stop. It provides a set of starting recipes and allows you to collect and experiment with new additions throughout your travels.

5. Use ordinances to customize shops and nature

boy playing video games
If you unlocked Resident Services on your island, you can enact ordinances on your island. This requires a three-star island rating and a performance from KK Slider. The day after KK Slider’s show, Isabelle in Resident Services will alert you to your new optional island ordinances.
Ordinances are actually one of the most impactful new island ideas for Animal Crossing because they have far-reaching effects. For instance, the Early Bird ordinance makes sure that villagers wake up and open their shops earlier in the day.
Some advice to those without thousands of bells: be careful with ordinances. They are often expensive to enact.

6. Collect gyroids for fun and to decorate your island

When you work towards unlocking Brewster’s cafe, you will also find out about gyroids. On your mysterious island tour with Kapp’n, you’ll eventually find Brewster as he’s hunting gyroids.
They’re inspired by traditional Japanese art known as haniwa, and they dance around in place and make cute noises. Each gyroid has its own style and appearance, but most of them resemble adorable little teapots.
When you find Brewster, he will give you your first gyroid fragment and describe how to cultivate it into a fully grown gyroid. Your next step is to take it home to your island, and then plant and water it. Visit the same spot the next day to dig out your gyroid.

7. Unlock new shops on Harvey’s Island

The shops at Harvey’s Island Plaza are a major convenience upgrade for New Horizons, providing one of the best Animal Crossing ideas we have for new and old players. This new marketplace is a venue for many of the game’s roving merchants.
What this means is that instead of hunting for every item, or waiting for the right villager to visit your island, you can upgrade the plaza with new permanent shop locations that sell those items. If you previously visited Harvey’s Island, you’ll receive an invitation to visit. If you’re a new player and haven’t encountered Harvey, he’ll send a letter asking you to stop by.

8. Start a group aerobics sesh with the tape deck

If you’ve played New Horizons extensively, the aerobics activity may sound familiar. Known as group stretching in-game, the feature was introduced to New Horizons as a seasonal add-on in summer 2021. From mid-July to late August, players could collect stamps and earn the Aerobics Radio item.
For its original rollout, group stretching was limited to a specific time window. With 2.0, the feature completely opens up, allowing you to start a group stretching session anytime. Just follow your beautiful path designs to the plaza by Resident Services and use the Tape Deck to start a new sesh. Namaste.

9. Add vehicles to your island

adult playing video games
The 2.0 update also sees a conspicuous addition for islands in the form of new vehicles. While you can’t actually drive around in them, they do serve as a customizable decorative feature for your island.
Options range from small pieces like bikes and scooters, to practical choices like a tractor and various cars. You can even change the vehicle colors for some extra pizzazz. This adds a unique look and feel to your island, making vehicles a great item to add to your list of Animal Crossing island layout ideas.

10. Upgrade design and decor with Happy Home Paradise

Released almost simultaneously with the free 2.0 update, the Happy Home Paradise DLC costs $24.99 or you can get it bundled with the Switch Online Expansion Pack service. It opens up a whole new activity that allows players to design vacation homes for clients (aka villagers in the game) on a variety of resort islands.
As far as Animal Crossing design ideas, it’s an obvious choice and a great way to expand your decorating repertoire. While designing vacation homes, you’ll apply a range of new methods and use a “built-in inventory” so you won’t drain your personal resources. Eventually, these techniques can be brought back to help improve your own island.

So many new possibilities to explore

Between the 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise, there are so many new Animal Crossing island design ideas to explore.
If you’re a first-time player, the possibilities may seem endless and overwhelming. But just take your time and play at your own pace, because you’ll get to the best stuff eventually. For long-time players, this is an exciting time to return or continue building out the island of your dreams.
Nintendo says the 2.0 update is the last big update for New Horizons, which makes now a great time to start playing. Even before the 2.0 update and DLC, there are tons of Animal Crossing: New Horizons island ideas to try, from building your own zen garden to changing the landscape once you earn the terraforming tool.

About the Author

Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

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